This week’s poem, “In the Beginning,” Portland Poet Laureate Maya Williams tells a powerful origin story of human grief, fear and hate. I love this poem’s electric, bravura storytelling, and its wisdom about the dangerous belief that “any room for sorrow becomes a room for damnation.”

Maya Williams (ey/em, they/them, and she/her) is a religious Black multiracial nonbinary suicide survivor who is currently an Ashley Bryan Fellow and the seventh poet laureate of Portland. They were one of three artists of color selected to represent Maine in The Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America series in 2020. Her debut poetry collection, “Judas & Suicide,” was just released by Game Over Books, and ey have three Portland book events planned for this week: readings May 31 at Mechanics Hall and June 3 at Space, and a workshop June 2 at Indigo Arts Alliance.

In the Beginning
By Maya Williams

God was bored, lonely, and loving enough to allow himself to pull the glittery Big Bang from His sleeve. Lucifer was bored too, but while not too far from God, he liked the loneliness of the darkness.

God said, Let there be light when He created the day, and proclaimed it good. Lucifer thought his name provided enough light.

On the day God created Adam, Lucifer questioned his own enoughness. When God did not want man to be alone, and made a companion for Adam, Lucifer became jealous. Bitter.

When Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, Lucifer did not expect to be cursed too. To be alone, and God having more than enough friends.

I’ll show Him, thought Lucifer.

On the twelfth day, Lucifer changed his name to Satan, and proclaimed it good.

On the one thousand and ninety-sixth day, Satan challenged God to show how hopeless humans are through Job. Prove to Him that slinging out creation was never a good idea. God, righteously cocky, said, Bet.

God won, and it was good.

Satan rubbed his hands together and got to work. Try again.

On the two hundred and sixty thousand six hundred and sixty-sixth day, Satan created white supremacy, the DSM, transphobia. Continued to trick scattered humans into believing any room for sorrow becomes a room for damnation. Sitting back on his recliner engulfed by flames, he enjoyed witnessing humans shout at God from afar.

Satan’s favorite saying humans created for him is The greatest trick The Devil ever pulled was making the world believe he didn’t exist.

On the trillionth day, Satan continues to destroy and confuse humans to get that original loneliness back, and he finds it oh so good.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “In the Beginning,” © 2023 by Maya Williams, is excerpted from Judas and Suicide (Game Over Books). It appears by permission of the author.

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